Building Progressive Alternatives in Quebec

August 25, 2009, 10:10 AM EST

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Despite strong economic growth over the last 25 years, the great majority of the benefits of that growth have flowed to corporate CEOs and not to workers, said Michel Arsenault, President of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ).

The current recession and jobs crisis is the result of the policies and leadership of right wing politicians like former U.S. President George Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

It's critical the labour movement works hard in Quebec and across Canada to elect progressive politicians who will react and build strong alternatives to the right-wing mantra that "markets will resolve everything," he told CAW Convention delegates.

"Our governments must step in," Arsenault said. "We need an industrial policy.we need a Buy Canadian law." He called for governments to develop policies to ensure that industry returns to Quebec and Canada after the fall out from free trade, to develop new industrial jobs and to provide jobs in a new green economy.

In Quebec, where 40 per cent of the workforce is unionized, progressive legislation is central to the ongoing fight against the agenda of right wing politicians and business lobbyists.

Quebec has anti-scab legislation, strong pay equity legislation, binding arbitration for first collective agreements, a progressive tax structure, a card check system for union organizing, and among many other progressive policies, a day care system that costs $7 per day per child.

Arsenault thanked the CAW's leadership and the convention delegates for working so hard to build progressive policies that benefit working families in Quebec and right across Canada.

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